Infection-derived lipids elicit an immune deficiency circuit in arthropods. Academic Article uri icon


  • The insect immune deficiency (IMD) pathway resembles the tumour necrosis factor receptor network in mammals and senses diaminopimelic-type peptidoglycans present in Gram-negative bacteria. Whether unidentified chemical moieties activate the IMD signalling cascade remains unknown. Here, we show that infection-derived lipids 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol (POPG) and 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl diacylglycerol (PODAG) stimulate the IMD pathway of ticks. The tick IMD network protects against colonization by three distinct bacteria, that is the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and the rickettsial agents Anaplasma phagocytophilum and A. marginale. Cell signalling ensues in the absence of transmembrane peptidoglycan recognition proteins and the adaptor molecules Fas-associated protein with a death domain (FADD) and IMD. Conversely, biochemical interactions occur between x-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP), an E3 ubiquitin ligase, and the E2 conjugating enzyme Bendless. We propose the existence of two functionally distinct IMD networks, one in insects and another in ticks.

published proceedings

  • Nat Commun

altmetric score

  • 113.616

author list (cited authors)

  • Shaw, D. K., Wang, X., Brown, L. J., Chvez, A., Reif, K. E., Smith, A. A., ... Pedra, J.

citation count

  • 72

complete list of authors

  • Shaw, Dana K||Wang, Xiaowei||Brown, Lindsey J||Chávez, Adela S Oliva||Reif, Kathryn E||Smith, Alexis A||Scott, Alison J||McClure, Erin E||Boradia, Vishant M||Hammond, Holly L||Sundberg, Eric J||Snyder, Greg A||Liu, Lei||DePonte, Kathleen||Villar, Margarita||Ueti, Massaro W||de la Fuente, José||Ernst, Robert K||Pal, Utpal||Fikrig, Erol||Pedra, Joao HF

publication date

  • February 2017